Guide to setting up in business

Caroline Cassidy

The recession has left many considering their lifestyle, career and financial future and for some the desire to take charge of their own life rather than rely on an employer will lead them to consider setting up their own business venture. But are you ready to take the plunge and what does it take to make a success of a new business?

Business plan
Business plan

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Firstly, it is important to remember that setting up in business is extremely challenging and requires a huge level of commitment. The early stages require long hours, hard work and the loyal and unwavering support of your family. As well as the initial financial insecurity, remember that the perks you enjoyed as an employee, such as paid holiday and sick pay, are no longer available as benefits.

However, with self-belief, determination, a strong network of contacts and commitment, being your own boss can be a rewarding and challenging experience.

Of course, good planning is essential if you are to make it in business - setting up a business plan will help to focus your mind on the fine details including objectives, marketing strategies and financial forecasts.

It is equally important to consider whether you are to be a sole trader (ie. all debts and profits belong to you), form a partnership (in which two or more share the responsibilities and financial gains and losses) or a limited company (which involves strict regulations but enables the individual to raise money via shareholders).

Similarly, sound advice from an accountant and lawyer will ensure that you are on top of tax issues, business law and help you to avoid any small print mishaps.

If you, like many, are not blessed with oodles of spare cash with which to start up your business, it is worth looking into getting a grant.

The government supports new businesses both financial and through expert advice, information and services. Grants from the government can be tough to get your hands on, however. Most require you to match the funds they supply, and competition and stringent criteria for eligibility often prove a stumbling block.

But there are a host of local and industry-specific support schemes aimed at starting up, running or developing your business so do your research to see what is available. If you are under 30 you may be able to apply for a new business loan from The Prince's Trust, which helps many young entrepreneurs to get that helping hand.

Alternatively, a common route to finding those start-up costs is to apply for a business loan. Your bank will ask for a detailed business plan which they will review, and will most often insist on some form of collateral such as the firm's assets or your property, and care should be taken before securing a loan against your home.

There is no doubt that the decision to start up your own business should not be taken lightly - however, there are now a host of websites available, aimed specifically at helping you with every aspect. For detailed information and advice, Business Link is an excellent place to start, and will enable you to make the right choices for a successful start-up.